Blog Written by Joe Genova (@joegenovaa):
Five years ago, Inter took the world by storm as Jose Mourinho led them to the treble. Five years ago also marks the last time an Italian team has won the UEFA Champions League. In the past 10 years, Serie A has only been able to conquer two UCL titles. History shows Italy has been more than dominant in the European campaign, either finishing as a runner up or winner every other year. Fast forward to the present, Italy now only has two guaranteed spots in the UCL, the third spot is a playoff match, so the question arises; is Serie A something of the past? Now that question involves other questions as well. Serie A is hailed as the most tactical league there is. Now, that’s just not my opinion, that’s stated by notable players that have experience abroad.
“Italy is the most difficult and competitive league for a striker, they still think that it is more important not to concede a goal than to score one. In Spain they want to score a goal and then a second and a third.” Zlatan Ibrahimovic told The Guardian in an interview conducted October 13th 2015.
Not enough evidence?
“It's still the toughest league in the world. It's the university of football. Tactically, it's at the highest level here and we suffer on the field,” Carlos Tevez told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview.
So what’s going on, if top players hail this league as the best league, what’s happening? The problem is simple; Italy is now being deemed a developing league, like Portugal, Holland, and Belgium. Italian clubs don’t have the money they once did to offer high wages and even if money wasn’t an issue, the league is struggling in total, bringing in a number of foreign talents rather than rising their own. When the Serie A was at its peak you saw the big named Italian players all pledging allegiance to their country, like Totti, Del Piero, Maldini, Nesta, the list goes on. The only teams able to tempt an Italian to go abroad were Real Madrid or Barcelona, which is obvious. Now again, fast-forward to the present and you see some of Italy’s top talents abroad, even the future of Italy is sent out abroad for some bizarre reason. Italy maintains pride in their defensive qualities, all teams have mastered the art of the coveted Catenaccio, but as seen last week with Bayern Munich against Juventus, it was broken. That wasn’t a true Catenaccio, a true master class of Catenaccio is when every single person in defense is comfortable with the ball at their feet, passing it around, wasting time, getting in the oppositions head, passing it all the way up the pitch just to pass it back to your defense who then passes it back to the keeper. You didn’t see that in the second half, you saw a scared Juventus, launching the ball up the field panicking when in possession and getting beaten by pace.
It's not easy, every person who supports the Serie A needs to realize. Yes, Juventus is a powerhouse. Yes, they have the best defense in Italy and the best goalkeeper but Juventus is only one team. Yes, they are the only team in Italy run properly; no debt, keep their young Italians, have a good infrastructure, and own their stadium. Juventus right now is the perfect Italian team and the only Italian team that’ll be able to carry the torch. But for Serie A to reign over the world once again, Catenaccio needs to be installed in the minds once more. It will make a return and when it does it’ll be beautiful, doves will sing, kids will dance in the street and you will see a new reign of power.